Amelia Freeman: From History Major to Software Engineer

The path Amelia Freeman took to software engineering was anything but linear. Her career pursuit was driven by a persistent curiosity and a desire to create. After studying history and working in recruitment, she found herself drawn to the world of code. Inspired by a coding class in college, she decided to make a bold career change and enrolled in Flatiron School’s immersive Software Engineering program.

Before Flatiron

Amelia’s experience in recruiting equipped her with valuable communication and interpersonal skills, but she yearned for a more technical and independent career. “I wanted to do something that involved less talking to people and more working with code,” she shared. Living in Germany for a year and a half solidified her desire for a change, and she saw Flatiron School as the perfect launchpad for her software engineering aspirations.

During Flatiron

The program’s intensity surprised Amelia, but she met the challenge head-on. “The days were long, and the work was challenging,” she admits, “but I just continued to work and work, and in the end, I felt very accomplished with what I had learned and the work I had done.” This perseverance, a core value at Flatiron School, is what helped Amelia push through any obstacles she encountered during the program and emerge on the other side as a confident developer.

After Flatiron

Amelia’s dedication paid off. After 68 days, she landed her dream job as a Junior Consultant at Agineo in Germany, fulfilling her desire to work in the country she once explored. “I am most proud of my new job in Germany,” she beams. “It was a dream to work in Germany, and I’m proud I made it happen!”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Amelia Freeman?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Amelia in a Software Engineering program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Flatiron School’s immersive programs can equip you with the skills and confidence to pursue your tech dreams, no matter your background. Join a supportive community of learners and instructors, and unleash your potential to thrive in the tech industry. 

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Troy Hendrickson: From Sales to Data Scientist for the NBA

Driven by a passion for sports and a desire to leverage data for deeper insights, Troy Hendrickson attended Flatiron School’s Data Science bootcamp in the hopes of joining his dream industry – professional sports. Read his inspiring story of transformation from coach and salesperson to Stats Auditor at the National Basketball Association (NBA)!

Before Flatiron: What were you doing and why did you decide to switch gears?

Troy’s background in sports management and sales success hinted at his potential in the data-driven world of sports analytics. However, the lack of technical skills held him back from his dream career. “I knew data science could one day lead me to work for a sports franchise,” he says, “and sales wasn’t my passion.”

During Flatiron: What surprised you most about yourself and the learning process during your time at Flatiron School?

Flatiron wasn’t just about learning new skills; it was about self-discovery. “I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the learning process,” Troy admits. The supportive community and emphasis on practical application fueled his drive. “Flatiron’s values aligned perfectly with mine,” he says, highlighting the school’s focus on grit and a growth mindset.

After Flatiron: What are you most proud of in your new tech career?

After 277 days of dedicated job search, Troy landed his dream role at the NBA. His journey wasn’t without challenges. “Initially, I applied too often,” he reflects. But by strategically leveraging his network and continuously learning, he landed interviews and impressed hiring managers with his data-driven insights and passion for sports. “My NBA Prediction Capstone project was a clincher,” he reveals, showcasing the power of project-based learning at Flatiron.

Inspired by Troy’s story?

Flatiron School can equip you with the skills and confidence to pursue your tech dreams, no matter your background. Join a supportive community of learners and experienced instructors, and step outside your comfort zone like Troy. The future of tech awaits you!

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Troy in a program that sets you apart from the competition. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Andrew Smit: Band Director to Software Engineer

Imagine the vibrant hum of a bustling classroom filled with instruments and eager young musicians. Now, picture the quiet focus of a coding desk, lines of code weaving digital symphonies. This is the remarkable journey of a former band director who found his rhythm in the world of software development thanks to Flatiron School.

Andrew Smit, a 2023 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, is a dedicated individual with a passion for teaching music and a commitment to lifelong learning. After nine years as a public school music educator, Andrew embarked on a transformative journey at Flatiron School and successfully transitioned into a fulfilling career in Software Engineering. Let’s dive into Andrew’s story as he reflects on his motivations, challenges, and triumphs.

Before Flatiron: What were you doing and why did you decide to switch gears?

Andrew Smit spent nearly a decade as a dedicated band director, shaping young musical minds. “I was teaching 6-12 graders percussion, directing the high school drumline, and contributing to the team of band directors to help prepare concerts and teach music performance and literacy,” Andrew shared.

While passionate about teaching and music, Andrew sought a career change that could offer “more upward mobility for long-term growth, more time at home with my family, and new challenges.” The desire to leverage his existing skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and working collaboratively with others led Andrew to the world of software development.

During Flatiron: What surprised you most about the learning process during your time at Flatiron School?

“You have to trust the process,” Andrew said, reflecting on his time at Flatiron School. Andrew underscores the significance of consistent effort, stating, “a little bit every day goes a long way, and before you know it, those little instances add up to something big.” 

From a technical standpoint, Andrew recalls being taken aback by the similarities across programming languages. “It’s surprisingly easy to pick up new languages if you focus on building a solid foundation.” The emphasis on foundational knowledge at Flatiron School laid the groundwork for a successful foray into the tech landscape.

Andrew graduated in June 2023, jumping into the job search while maintaining his attitude to hard work – that a little bit each day gets you to where you want to be. This philosophy, paired with the support of his dedicated Career Coach Peggy Osbourn, paid off. He landed his first role as a Web Developer at Square 205 and hasn’t looked back.

After Flatiron: What are you most proud of in your new tech career?

Post-Flatiron School, Andrew is putting his new development skills to use for a good cause, volunteering at Presto Assistant and contributing to a production-level codebase with other skilled developers – an achievement that he is particularly proud of. 

Andrew highlights the impact of this experience: “This not only gave me the ability to look at certain features, landing pages, and functionality and be able to say ‘I did that! I helped build that!,’ but it also gave me the confidence and skills to be more competitive in job interviews.” The tangible contributions made to his community stand as a testament to the practical skills he acquired at Flatiron School.

A Harmonious Future with Flatiron School

Andrew’s journey encapsulates the essence of growth, adaptability, and success. If Andrew’s story resonates with you, if the prospect of transforming your career harmonizes with your aspirations, it’s time to take charge!

Ready to compose your own success story?

Apply now to join other career changers like Andrew Smit at Flatiron School—a program that not only equips you with technical skills but fosters a community of growth, collaboration, and support. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog, where each narrative is a note in the symphony of possibilities that await you.

Katie Behrmann: Educator to Engineer

Imagine the thrill of igniting young minds with the wonders of STEM, and then seamlessly transitioning to building and supporting the very technology that fuels that excitement. That was Katie Behrmann’s trajectory, a former STEM educator who, after Flatiron School, transformed her passion for teaching into a fulfilling career in software engineering. Her story echoes a familiar melody for many – the burnout of the education system and the lure of impactful problem-solving in the tech world.

In the ever-evolving tech landscape, Katie’s path from a dedicated STEM educator to a thriving tech professional is a tale of determination, passion, and growth.

Before Flatiron: What were you doing and why did you decide to switch gears?

Before her foray into the world of tech, Katie was an upper elementary/middle school STEM teacher, imparting foundational coding and robotics skills to her students. The spark to switch gears ignited during the pandemic when Katie transitioned to a Customer Support Specialist role at an EdTech startup. 

As she assisted users on the platform, she realized the potential of her technical skills in solving coding-related issues. This realization fueled her desire to deepen her knowledge of programming languages and computer science, ultimately leading her to pursue a career change. In her words, “I loved using my technical knowledge and skills to help users and knew that I could further those skills.”

During Flatiron: What surprised you most about yourself and the learning process during your time at Flatiron School?

Initially, Katie entered Flatiron School with concerns about balancing an educational endeavor alongside her full-time job. “I was worried about taking on another type of extra-curricular schooling outside of my full-time job,” she said “When I was a teacher, I was in a part-time grad school program that made me miserable.” However, the experience turned out to be a stark contrast to her past negative encounters with part-time programs. 

During her time in the program, Katie discovered a newfound excitement to learn, eagerly tackling coding challenges and expressing her creativity. “I was always excited at the end of my work day to solve coding challenges, build with code, and get creative,” Katie reflected. “I found the software engineering curriculum to be surprisingly fun and extremely well-structured.”

An unexpected revelation was finding herself thinking and dreaming in code—a testament to the immersive and engaging learning environment.

After Flatiron: What are you most proud of in your new tech career?

Post-graduation, Katie accepted a Technical Support Engineer role at Samsara and seamlessly translated her newfound skills into tangible contributions. “I was able to use my skills as predicted–not only in helping our users debug issues, but I was able to push feature changes to my company’s code [that] solved problems that many of our users had been contacting us about for years.”

Katie’s impact extended beyond her initial role as she navigated toward a higher-paying job and earned a more senior title at Samsara. This career journey is a testament to her dedication and the practical skills acquired during her time at Flatiron School.

A Call to Aspiring Tech Enthusiasts

Katie’s transformation from Educator to Engineer exemplifies the boundless possibilities that unfold with the right education, determination, and support system. If Katie’s story resonates with you, if the idea of shifting from education to a dynamic tech career ignites a spark within, then it’s time to make a change.

Ready to take charge of your future?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Katie in a program that sets you apart from the competition. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog, where each narrative is a testament to the transformative journey awaiting you in software engineering, cybersecurity, data science, or product design. Your coding odyssey begins with a single click—take it and let Flatiron School be your guiding star.

Juliet Day: Law to Data Science

Juliet Day, a July 2022 Data Science Live graduate, began her career working in law. A pandemic, baking business, and bootcamp later, she’s thriving in tech as a Data Scientist.

Background In Law

Growing up, Juliet recalls always wanting to be a lawyer, based on her parent’s backgrounds in law and “a lot” of Law and Order. This interest informed her choice of major in university and early career. 

“I majored in Criminal Justice in college and then started working as a paralegal for a law firm in NYC,” she said. “But, I realized pretty quickly that was not what I wanted to do as a career.” 

She set her eyes next on the culinary field. Unfortunately, the pandemic had other plans. 

“I’d enrolled in a dual business management and pastry program at the Institute of Culinary Education, set to start in March of 2020. Unfortunately, because of Covid, the business management program was taught virtually and the pastry program was indefinitely postponed.” 

With learning restricted to online and NYC effectively shutting down, Juliet decided to retreat to her parent’s home and wait for the pandemic to blow over. Like many, what she thought would be a couple of weeks stretched far longer, giving her plenty of time to explore her new culinary business ambitions. 

“I’d launched a baking business, initially from [my parent’s] home and later from a shared commercial kitchen. I started selling scones on Etsy and built the business for about a year and a half. I set up a website that allowed me to ship all over the country and also sold to 8 farm stands and wholesale shops near my parent’s home.” 

Deciding On Data

For most people, this is where the story would end – successfully pivoting from Law into a confectionary business owner, and riding off into the sunset, scones in hand. But, by January 2022, Juliet had realized the limitations imposed on her business’ growth caused by the pandemic wouldn’t be going away. 

“Scaling my business the way I wanted to would be close to impossible with the labor shortages, supply chain issues, and all the other problems in the food industry caused by Covid,” she explained. “So, I decided to shut down my business.”

With her second career concluded, Juliet got to work planning her next move. Reflecting on the previous two years she spent building a baking business, she realized that her third career had been there all along – data.  

“I realized that while I started my business because of my love of baking, what I really loved was being able to analyze my data with (at the time) my limited Excel knowledge,” she recalled.  “I found it fascinating how I could make decisions about my business based on the data I had and that inspired me to want to expand my data analytics skills and dive into this career path.”

Related Reading: Juliet’s blog on using data science in her baking business.

Flatiron School Experience

Having decided to pursue data science, Juliet got to work on acquiring the skills she would need to work professionally in the field. After researching a variety of programs in the New York City area, she settled on Flatiron School’s full-time Data Science Live program. 

“I knew several people who went through the program and I had heard great things,” she said. “My primary goal was to gain the technical skills required to get a first job in tech and to cultivate the mindset needed for this field.” 

While she’d initially planned to attend classes in person, circumstances again threw a wrench in her plans. Pivoting to remote learning again, Juliet adapted swiftly. 

“Initially, I was disappointed by this change [to remote], but it was a rewarding experience even in a remote setting.”

Students in the Data Science Live program commit to an accelerated pace, learning Monday through Friday for 15 weeks straight – a daunting workload to adapt to. 

“There’s a lot of material taught in a very short period of time, and especially at the beginning when everything was so new, it was hard to keep up.”

Despite the challenge of learning at such a fast pace, Juliet persisted and acquired the technical skills she’d set out to, demonstrated by her final capstone project. 

“For my capstone project, I analyzed OpenTable’s data to compare the number of restaurant reservations in Democratic vs Republican cities during and since COVID-19. I used Timeseries to show how politics impacted both the restaurant industry’s outcome as well as the health outcome for various cities.” 

Related Reading: Juliet’s capstone project on GitHub.

Working In The Field

Juliet graduated from Flatiron School in July 2022. By October of that same year, she’d landed her first role as a Data Consultant.

“My career coach was helpful, and I ended up getting my job through The Flatiron School’s career partnership team who recommended I apply for the position.” 

More than a year into her third career, Juliet reports a positive experience that allows her to tie in her previous ventures. 

“I work for GCOM Software and consult for the IRS in identity theft prevention where I am able to combine my criminal justice background with data,” she explained. “I’ve been here for over a year and I still love it and find it exciting every day. In some ways, it’s the law career I never had.”

While she can’t share much about her current work with the IRS, Juliet says that the learning experience she had at Flatiron School prepared her to adapt to new languages with ease. 

“A large majority of my job has been SQL-based. I’ve become much stronger in SQL in a short period of time and am proud of how I have used the skills I learned at The Flatiron to learn a new coding language on the job.” 

Reflecting On The Journey

Looking back on the path she took to Data Science, Juliet is acutely aware of the importance of data in just about every industry and recommends targeting industries you’ll truly enjoy working in. 

“Find a job in tech within an industry you’re passionate about. Whether that’s medicine or sports or food or criminal justice, data and the tech industry as a whole is integrated in almost every company, and working for an industry you’re interested in makes all the difference.” 

She’s also realized the benefits of a growth mindset, and that a career in tech means lifelong learning. 

“On the first day of the program, my instructor told us that the coding language we would use in a job five years from now doesn’t exist yet,” she recalled. “Her goal was to teach us how to learn new coding languages so that we could continue learning as technology changes (at the rapid rate it currently is). That thought has stayed with me: I need to keep learning and keep my skills up to date.”

Advice To Current Students

As for her suggestions to other students pursuing a bootcamp experience, Juliet’s guidance is practical – no matter what, persevere. 

“Hang in there! For anyone who’s tried Duolingo, you know that learning a new language is hard and most people quit at some point and never go back. You’re learning a new language, and normally several of them, in 15 weeks, and it’s not going to all make sense immediately. Go to your instructors, classmates, and the immense number of free online resources available.”

She also cautions over-reliance on Ai technologies to breeze through the program. 

“Don’t just rely on ChatGTP while in the program. It’s not always accurate and seems to be getting less accurate instead of more! So while it can be a helpful resource, you need to be able to understand the answer it is giving you to make sure it’s what you were looking for and can explain the code you used, should someone ask.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Juliet Day?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Juliet in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Need more time to be ready to apply? Try out our Free Data Science Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Or, review the Data Science Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and help launch your new career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Logan Miller: Technical Consulting to Software Engineer

Logan Miller, a July 2022 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, spent 5 years working as a pre-sales engineer for a technical consulting firm and another year in Iceland earning a Master’s degree before deciding to switch career paths into tech.

He shares his journey from consulting to tech – with a stop in Iceland – below.

Early Exposure To Tech

Logan Miller grew up around tech. From his early childhood, it was almost always nearby, either through family or the gadgets themselves, and credits this early exposure with his interest in the field.

“Many of my closest friends are in tech, my mom was in tech, and just growing up around computers and technology had a huge influence on me,” he said. “I was like 11 and started messing around with HTML.”

It wasn’t until he was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in European History at university that an accidental class enrollment led him to pick up formal programming for the first time. 

“When I was a freshman at Pace University I somehow found my way into a senior-level game design class (don’t ask – I barely even know how it happened),” he explained. “It was pretty daunting when I found out we were going to have to actually program things in C++ considering I didn’t even know what javascript was. I leaned on pretty much everyone I knew to get through it – friends, mom, girlfriend’s dad – anyone who knew anything about coding was sure to hear from me at random hours with random questions.”

Technical Consulting By Way Of Iceland

After graduating, Logan worked as a technical writer and pre-sales engineer for a technical consulting firm in New York. He recalls having the opportunity to work with “impressive people,” but ultimately felt that the work lacked meaning.

“I spent a lot of time working on documents that were ten, twenty, ninety pages in length just skimming for compliance reasons,” he said. “I never really enjoyed what I was doing in a way that would make me, for example, actually want to work all day on a Saturday or something.”

It was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that made Logan, like many others, rethink his career and path in life. Unsure of what to do next, he applied to the University of Iceland and was accepted. 

“I didn’t feel like my career was going the way I wanted it to and applied on a whim […] because it was essentially free,” he explained. “My intention with grad school in Iceland was to try a few different classes and see what stuck.”

Logan continued to work remotely for the US-based technical consulting firm while attending the University of Iceland. It was during his time in the land of ice and fire that his interest in computer science reignited. 

“Some of my friends [at the University of Iceland] were in computer science programs so I would see what kind of problems they were working on and languages they were learning. It was a lot of fun just messing around with logic and talking about the kinds of bugs and problems they ran into.”

Committing To Changing Careers

Logan left Iceland and returned to the states in July 2021 with his eye set on a career in software engineering. He highlights the field’s range of opportunities as one of the reasons he decided to pursue the field. 

“There aren’t a ton of career paths out there that allow you to land a job in almost any company or vertical, but you can find a Software Engineer who works for Whole Foods just as easily as one who works for the Department of Defense,” he said. “It allows for so much creativity and opportunity since you get people from all walks of life and interests working at places they enjoy.”

After testing the waters with a short online course in Python, Logan applied to Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program.

“I felt that I should take it seriously and make an investment into changing my career. I knew that I wanted to go all in and see how I compared to my peers in a high-paced environment.”

His Experience At Flatiron School

Logan enrolled in Flatiron School full-time and joined a cohort of other students. His classmates and the community they built together, he recalled, were his favorite part of the program.

“Hands down the best part of the Flatiron School program is the people that you spend each day with and watching them grow as programmers,” he said. “There is a real camaraderie with your cohort and you’ll be surprised at how often you’re spending late nights just talking, working, and hanging out with these people you never knew until a few weeks ago.” 

But, the accelerated course was not without challenges. The speed at which the program covered material was intimidating, Logan recalled, but manageable. 

“As long as you trust in yourself, study, and lean on your teammates and cohort instructor you will be totally fine.”

The Job Search

Logan graduated from Flatiron School’s Software Engineering course in July 2022 and jumped right into the job search. The next six months, he admitted, were difficult at times. 

“My job search [was] a rollercoaster. There will be a lot of ups, downs, hopeful moments, tragic defeats, and everything in between.”

Throughout his tumultuous job search, however, Logan had his Career Coach Tracie Mazzu to support and cheer him on.

“It’s nice to have a career coach on your side that can provide advice and a wealth of experience to help you get through everything,” he said. “I started off doubting how much I would get out of a career coach as it just seemed like an additional chore to do but once my coach helped me redo my resume it became abundantly clear that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.”

Working In Tech

Logan accepted a Lead Developer role with My.Suit in December of 2022. So far, he has only good things to say about his new field. 

“I’m loving it. It’s awesome to be working with something that you enjoy and solving problems that no one else can. There is a ton of freedom and opportunity for you to explore and learn new things each day. The pay doesn’t hurt either.”

His takeaway from his Flatiron School experience is one of self-determination.

“Nothing in life will ever be handed to you. You need to take it and put in the time and effort to make whatever goals you have a reality. Just keep pushing and have fun!”

Inspired By Logan Miller’s Story?

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Logan Miller in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Milena Afeworki: Civil Engineering to Data Science

Milena Afeworki, a September 2021 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, began her career as a civil engineer in Northeast Africa. Now, she is living in California and thriving as a Data Scientist.

Background

Milena Afeworki began her career in Eritrea, a country in the Northeast of Africa on the coast of the Red Sea. She earned a Civil Engineering degree from the Eritrean Institute of Technology, joining a consulting and engineering firm after graduation where she explored her interest in mathematics and data visualization. 

“I began as a Structural Civil Engineer, working on Infrastructure design projects in various sectors, including public, and NGO initiatives,” she explained. “I was passionate about solving problems using mathematical analysis, design, and visualization which was my main reason for choosing the field in the first place.” 

But, 5 years and a move to the USA later, she saw just how big an impact data could have on the world – and she wanted to be a part of it. 

“After moving to the US my network grew, I learned more and was captured by the beauty of how much data was behind the projects being launched,” she said. “I wanted to be part of the bigger determining factor that drives the decisions of projects that are set in motion.” 

Though many would consider Civil Engineering and Data Science completely unrelated, Milena says there is a thread of logic that weaves the disciplines together.

“There is a lot of similarity between the two fields. Both aim to solve engineering problems by optimizing processes and resources,” she explained. “Moreover, resolving intricate engineering problems and presenting the outcomes through impactful visualizations to offer valuable insights to guide business strategies interested me more.” 

Bootcamp Experience

Despite the similarity of logic used in both the fields of engineering and data science, the tools used differed significantly. Making the transition between fields would require Milena to expand her skill set to include Python, Statistical Analysis, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning. To expedite her learning process, she turned to a Data Science bootcamp – specifically, to Flatiron School.

“Flatiron School was first my choice because of its reputable Data Science program and structured career coaching,” she recalled. “I wanted to gain hands-on skills and practical experience in designing and building data science projects applying Machine learning tools. The program’s curriculum, which covered relevant tools, languages, and frameworks, aligned with my career goals.”

With her goals set, Milena enrolled in Flatiron School’s Data Science Live program. A full-time, immersive course designed to teach students the data science fundamentals they need to enter the industry, the program moves quickly over 15 weeks of instruction. Milena remembers initially struggling with the accelerated pace of learning. 

“Understanding the intricacies of data science in a fast-paced learning environment [was challenging]. Handling large volumes of data efficiently and effectively required a deep understanding of various tools and techniques,” she explained. “Given the program’s demanding nature, I occasionally encountered frustration when confronted with obstacles, but such moments ultimately pushed me to persistently seek solutions.”

Unsurprisingly, Milena’s favorite part of the program was what drew her to the field initially – seeing, and being part of, projects with impact. 

“My favorite part of the program was working on real-world assignments. These projects simulated the challenges that Data Scientists face in the industry, allowing me to apply the concepts I learned, incorporating my previous experience and enhancing my problem-solving skills.” 

Job Search

Milena graduated in September 2021 and began the job search, supported by her dedicated Flatiron School Career Coach. 

“My career coach played a crucial role in providing guidance on crafting my resume, preparing for interviews, and expanding my network,” she recalled. “I owe my interviewing skills and networking skills to my coach, without whom it would have been difficult.”

Ultimately, Milena accepted a Data Integration Engineer position, which she thanks her Career Coach for helping her land. 

“Her professional insights and emotional support helped me navigate the competitive job market and ultimately secure my first Data Engineering role.” 

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Milena, she’d been working at her company for 1.5 years and had received a promotion to Data Analyst. Her experiences in the field, she said, have been exactly what she hoped for. 

“Working in the field of data engineering has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. The opportunity to work with cutting-edge tools and technologies to solve complex data challenges is fulfilling and aligns well with my passion for creating efficient data solutions,” she explained. “Overall, I’m thoroughly enjoying my journey as a data engineer, and I’m excited to see where my career leads.”

She is also particularly proud of a project she worked on that tied back to her original career in civil engineering, examined through the lens of data science. 

“I designed and implemented a Classification Model on the Structural condition of Bridges in the US, using climate data from NASA and bridge records from the Department of Transportation. The purpose of the project was intended for the bridge management system to be capable of accurately predicting future bridge conditions and help make an informed decision on when and where to allocate maintenance budgets.”

Visit Milena’s LinkedIn page to see what else she’s up to. 

Reflecting On Her Journey

Looking back on where she began, a career and a continent ago, Milena credits her adaptability for her success in pivoting professions by way of a bootcamp. 

“The most significant lesson I gained from my time at Flatiron School was developing the skill to thrive in uncertain and ambiguous scenarios,” she said. “I’ve come to view these situations as valuable opportunities for me to inquire, observe, learn, and embrace mistakes, all of which contributed to my growth beyond my initial capabilities.”

But, remembering the challenges she experienced at the beginning of her program, she recommends that future students just keep moving forward and working at the material, even if it feels impossible at first.

“Expect a learning curve where immediate progress might not be apparent. But keep persisting, and once those skills take root, you’ll be amazed by how far you’ve come.”

Ready To Dig Deeper Into Data, Just Like Milena Afeworki?

Apply Now to join other students like Milena Afeworki in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Data Science Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Or, review the Data Science Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and help launch your new career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Hannah Kofkin: Design to Software Engineering

Hannah Kofkin, an August 2020 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, began her career in design. But, just a few years in, she decided to pivot to where her true interest lay – tech. 

She shares her journey from design to engineering, all while maintaining a focus on creativity. 

Background

Hannah Kofkin began her career pursuing her creative interests – first with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, then spending 4 years managing the creative department in an event production company. But, a few years in, the desire “for a new challenge” had her reconsidering the path she was on and returning to an early curiosity in tech.

“I’d always been interested in tech and software engineering in particular because I wanted to understand how sites and apps were built,” she explained. “I wanted to know all about what goes on under the hood and how these platforms are built.” 

What’s more, she knew her background in design would transfer well from creating events to coding applications.

“I knew I could use my design experience combined with technical skills to build and develop applications from my unique perspective,” she said. “And once I discovered coding bootcamps, it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity to leave and focus on this career shift.”

Her Bootcamp Experience

Having decided to pursue her career change by way of a coding bootcamp, the next step was for Hannah to pick one to attend. It was a decision she put a lot of thought into, making her choice based on a variety of factors and feedback. 

“I talked to several bootcamp grads prior to making any decision to apply and I gathered feedback on many different schools,” she said. “Flatiron School ultimately felt like the best match for me given the full-stack program and the sense of community I felt from the beginning.” 

Having made her selection, Hannah enrolled in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering bootcamp. The immersive format of the program required full-time study hours – a time commitment that Hannah initially found challenging. 

“There were some very late nights and long hours, especially during the milestone projects throughout the program,” she recalled. “But, the time and effort you put in is directly correlated with what you get out of it.”

Despite the demanding schedule, throughout the program, Hannah found topics and experiences that she enjoyed. 

“I loved the variety of languages we learned and the structure of the program as a whole,” she said. “I also loved the collaborative projects so we could gain some real team dynamic experiences to apply in future roles.”

Job Search

Hannah completed her Flatiron School program in August 2020 – beginning her job search in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, an experience she remembers as “difficult”. Despite the challenge ahead of her, Hannah relied on the support of her dedicated Flatiron School career coach to keep her moving forward. 

“My career coach played a huge role! She kept me on a good schedule, gave very constructive feedback on each element of my application materials, and also notified me of any companies (including my current employer) who were looking to hire bootcamp grads.“

Ultimately, Hannah accepted an offer from Datadog, a cloud-scale monitoring and security company. She began working as a Solutions Engineer at the company in March 2021. 

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Hannah in August 2023, she’d been with Datadog for 2.5 years and had already received 2 promotions – now working as a Senior Solutions Engineer. Her experiences in the industry, she reported, have been overwhelmingly positive. 

“I absolutely love working in this industry at Datadog. I’m a Solutions Engineer so I’m not coding full time, however, having the solid base that I gained from Flatiron School is still helpful as I better understand different technologies and can debug or simply read and understand code as necessary. Reality definitely lives up to the dream for me!”

She reported that she is also particularly proud that she was brave enough to take the leap and change careers – especially during a global pandemic. 

“I am honestly proud of the career shift in general. It’s scary and difficult to leave a steady job, especially during covid, but I worked hard and persisted to ensure I found the right fit. It was all worth it in the end!”

Reflecting On Her Journey

Looking back on her Flatiron School experience, Hannah reminisces that the experience was one of difficulty and perseverance. 

“You get what you put in. It’s a difficult, tedious, time-consuming program,” she emphasizes, “but it really is worth it in the end to have a great baseline to build from and get a foot in the door to a competitive industry.”

As for her advice to others hoping to pursue the same program, Hannah recommends to lean into the difficulty and just keep moving forward because it’ll be worth it.

“Keep pushing, ask questions, and just do your best. Everyone has a different capacity to learn and everyone has a different learning style. Try to focus on your progress rather than comparing yourself to others. At the end of the program, it’ll feel very rewarding to see how far you’ve come.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Hannah Kofkin?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Hannah Kofkin in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Tony Khawaja-Lopez: MMA Coach to Cybersecurity

Tony Khawaja-Lopez, a November 2022 Cybersecurity Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, initially began his career in tech before spending several years in martial arts and the service industry. It took an injury to inspire him to come full circle to where he began – tech.

Background

Tony initially graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Post-graduation he was employed in the tech industry for a few years before switching to working as an MMA Coach and Stackbucks Supervisor. But, he says that an injury made him reconsider his current career path. 

“When I got injured, my wife [had just been] accepted to a Ph.D. program in Boston,” he explained. “Ultimately, I [wanted to change careers] for a better lifestyle and a field that was more mentally stimulating.”

While considering his next step, he found that he didn’t have to go far. In fact, he went full circle back to where he began – tech. 

“I have been a techie most of my life and Cybersecurity has always been interesting to me. I had been thinking about the field a lot, and after [my injury] I decided to take the plunge,” he said. “Cybersecurity seemed like work with importance and it was just the coolest thing I could think of.”

Bootcamp Experience

Transitioning into a new field, however, would require an expanded skill set. Eventually, Tony learned of Flatiron School’s Cybersecurity program through referrals from previous graduates. 

“I did some market research and spoke with a few friends who all knew someone who had gone to Flatiron,” he said. “After my own friend signed up, I decided I would too.” 

Tony enrolled in Flatiron School’s Cybersecurity Engineering Flex program, an online, part-time program designed for busy people. The format enables students to continue to work or fulfill other responsibilities while pursuing their education – a delicate balance that Tony admits was difficult to strike at first. 

“I worked throughout the whole program,” he explained. “So, time management and goalkeeping [were challenging].” 

Despite the challenges he faced adjusting to the coursework, Tony reported that he enjoyed the entirety of the program – hard work included. 

“My favorite part of the program was definitely the experience throughout, understanding something that was so foreign to me was an experience I hadn’t really ever achieved through conventional education,” he said. “I really enjoyed working with my Cohort lead, and the time they would take to help us whenever we messaged them.”

Job Search

Tony graduated from Flatiron School on November 9, 2022. By the time he received his certificate of completion, he already had two job offers in hand.

“The job search experience was tough at first, it involves a lot of leg work and finding what works for you,” he recalled. “But, I job-searched throughout the entire program, and managed to land two security-based IT jobs before even graduating.”

When we spoke with him almost a year out from graduation, he had nothing but good things to say about his decision to pivot into Cybersecurity. 

“My life simply wouldn’t be the same without the change. My wife and I are living well because of the career switch, which allows me to work from home while she studies for her Ph.D.”

Check out what Tony’s up to on his website: tonykl.com.

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on where he began, Tony is acutely aware of the importance of betting on oneself. 

“[Before attending Flatiron] I had been on the fence, worried that if it didn’t pan out, I’d be in a pinch,” he said. “However, the experience, what I learned, and the opportunities wouldn’t have been possible without attending Flatiron and going for it.”

 As for his advice to current Cybersecurity students, he recommends accepting the fact that you may not get things right the first time and to lean on those around you for help.

“There’s going to be a lot that won’t make sense, and you might have to spend 4 or 5 times the amount of time you thought you would on something to understand it. Reaching out to others in your cohort will get you further than you could alone.”

Ready To Pivot, Just Like Tony Khawaja-Lopez?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Tony Khawaja-Lopez in a program that’ll give you the tech skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Cybersecurity Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Qingsong Chen: Biology to Cybersecurity

Qingsong Chen, an October 2022 Cybersecurity graduate from Flatiron School, began his career working in the biological sciences. But, a short 4 years in, he made the decision to pivot to tech.

He shares his journey of crossing continents and changing careers below.

Background

Qingsong Chen began his career in China, first earning a degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from the Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, then working for four years as a Laboratory Assistant. But, despite his burgeoning profession in the biological sciences, he felt that something had to change. 

“I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted and my field of interest was more in IT,” he explained. “After researching the fields of tech I found myself very interested and eager to learn more; working in tech also felt like ‘my type’ of lifestyle.”

He took his time exploring different aspects of tech, trying out coding languages and software to see what he liked most. 

“I pursued self-learning in all areas of tech including Java, front end development, python, and cybersecurity,” he said. “I found out that I was most interested in Cybersecurity. So, I decided to leave the medical field and pursue a career I would enjoy.”

Bootcamp Experience

To expedite his transition into Cybersecurity, Qingsong began looking into bootcamps that would teach him the skills he needed to land his first job in tech. Eventually, he decided to apply to the Flatiron School Cybersecurity program.

“I did a lot of research before choosing Flatiron School,” he recalled. “Ultimately, I made the decision primarily based on the feedback from some graduates and a little bit of instinct. I also hoped to network with other students entering the field.” 

Qingsong enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time online Cybersecurity Engineering Live program. An accelerated course, it is designed to equip students with the foundational skills needed to break into the Cybersecurity industry. While he recalls initially finding it difficult to adjust to the “entry-level knowledge gap,” he appreciated the labs that equipped him with real-world skills. 

“My favorite part of the program was the hands-on labs,” he said. “Only by getting your hands dirty can you validate and truly understand what you have learned.”

The Job Search

Upon graduation in October 2022, Qingsong entered a tech job market that had recently been shaken by layoffs at big-name companies. But, despite the “hard” job search, Qingsong’s Flatiron School career coach supported him throughout. 

“My career coach helped a lot with my resume and my LinkedIn profile,” he said, “and we communicated regularly to discuss what I could improve in my job search.”

Ultimately, Qingsong accepted a tech-adjacent role at a technology company in Fremont, California. Though not the Cybersecurity role he’d initially set his sights on, he is confident that his current position will set him up for success moving forward.

“Though I was not yet able to land a job in Cybersecurity, I got an offer as a Server Repair Technician in a big company. In only 4 months I’ve become widely recognized as a reliable and capable person,” he said. “I’m hopeful I’ll be able to take the next step in my Cybersecurity career soon.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on where he began – a continent and a career ago – Qingsong’s takeaway is the importance of leaning into the challenge to get valuable experience. 

“I was able to complete tasks that were a bit over my experience level, as I learned a lot each time I got stuck. There were challenging tasks that took tons of time, but every minute was worth it. I am proud that I was able to hang in there and overcome the problems I’ve encountered.”

As for his advice to other upcoming graduates, he recommends considering a tech-adjacent job as a stepping stone.

“Breaking into the field of Cybersecurity is hard especially if you don’t have related experience,” he explained. “I would advise current students to consider other tech-related jobs to start with and build a way towards Cybersecurity. For example, if you’re offered a Network Engineer role but not a Cybersecurity role, consider taking it to start with.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Qingsong Chen?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Qingsong Chen in a program that’ll give you the tech skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Cybersecurity Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.